Pinning ceremony celebrates the completion of nursing studies and training for 20 Tusculum University students

GREENEVILLETusculum University celebrated its newest nursing graduates with a pinning ceremony that marked their entry into health care as career-ready professionals.

Twenty students participated in the pinning ceremony.

The College of Nursing recognized each of the 20 graduates in the Bachelor of Science in nursing program. The May 6 ceremony in Pioneer Arena was held the day before the nursing graduates walked the stage at commencement.

Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president, told the students that they will help the university fulfill its mission through their medical care. He said they will enrich personal lives by assisting patients they treat.

“When I have to go to the hospital someday to receive care, I hope one of you is my nurse because I trust the education that you’ve received here,” he said. “I know that you are a great nurse, and I know that you are prepared to take care of people in the hospital. I am proud of you.”

The students who received their pins were Caleigh Blair, Seth Brown, Abby Carrick, Kaynashia Carter, Riley Church, Abbagail Couch, Olivia Cunningham, Michael Eggert, Kristen Gass, Samantha Hobson, Laura Lawson, Brittany Maness, Savannah Markham, Briana McDonald, Ruth McLennan, Logann Pierson, Raven Ramsey, Harley Smith, Kelsie Smith and Falon Vallie.

Dr. Debra Spring, the College of Nursing’s interim dean, reinforced to the graduates how special their new profession will be. She said they will have an opportunity to serve patients from their first to their last breaths and reminded them that they must approach their career with a caring, compassionate and servant’s heart.

“Hopefully, you have found your purpose through your educational journey – but most of all your passion,” she said. “Every assignment had a purpose to develop you into the best nurse you can possibly be. You have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge, and you now must realize and understand how the knowledge you have gained will be utilized to support your delivery of safe, effective nursing care to those people entrusted to your care.”

Following up on Dr. Spring’s remarks, Dr. Tricia Hunsader, Tusculum’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, highlighted the skills the graduates will need. She said a good nurse must master the technical skills, which will become second nature in a year or two. A good nurse also needs to learn the soft skills of critical thinking, decision-making and written and verbal communication abilities, she said.

“To become a great nurse requires you not only to have the technical and soft skills but also the heart skills – to see your patients as whole people with emotional needs as well as physical needs,” Dr. Hunsader said. “To be a great nurse means that you will struggle to leave your work at work and that meeting the needs of others may sometimes come at the expense of meeting your own needs.

“A great nurse provides excellent care and also takes the time to calm a frightened child, listen to an elderly person’s stories, hold someone’s hand or explain a procedure again. A great nurse maintains every patient’s dignity and respect. A great nurse cares not only for the patient but also the patient’s family members, helping them understand their loved one’s condition and treatment. And for those with no family, a great nurse provides comfort and stands in the gap so that patient doesn’t have to be alone.”

Riley Church, right, is pinned by Alice Lawson, assistant professor of nursing, as Dr. Scott Hummel, left, Tusculum’s president, and Dr. Thomas Talley, assistant professor of nursing, right, watch.

Speaking for the class, graduate Riley Church discussed the important role he and his classmates will play as nurses.

“Nursing as a profession is not for the faint of heart,” Church said. “We know that and have seen that through all the clinical hours we have spent. Thankfully, we are not faint of heart. We are strong, we are brave, we are competent and we are faithful to the profession. We are going to be the ones that families turn to whenever doctors give them news they do not understand. We’re going to be holding the hands of the sick when no one else can.”

Alice Lawson, an assistant professor of nursing, noted these students have not had the typical nursing school experience. They started in Tusculum’s nursing program as the global coronavirus pandemic began and experienced many of the staples of that period – social distancing, quarantines and classes via the Zoom platform.

She said the students’ flexibility, compassion and adaptability enabled them to complete their training, which included caring for COVID-19 patients. She said these experiences have helped shape the graduates into the professionals they have become.

Caleigh Blair, right, receives an award certificate from Alice Lawson, assistant professor of nursing

“We have seen things in each of you that you didn’t see in yourself,” Lawson told the graduates. “All your hard work has been worth it. Enjoy the moment. Each of you is ready. Complete this step with confidence and grace. Make a difference, create changes within you and believe in yourself.”

In addition to pinning each of the graduates, the College of Nursing presented eight awards to students.

  • Jane Brown Award for excellence in service to the campus and community – Caleigh Blair
  • Pioneer Award for highest grade point average – Olivia Cunningham
  • Florence Nightingale Award – Kristen Gass
  • Extra Mile Award – Ruth McLennan
  • Touch a Life Award – Brittany Maness
  • Clinical Excellence Award – Caleigh Blair
  • Leadership Award – Riley Church
  • Strive Award – Laura Lawson

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